Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Risk Perception and Health Behavior: The Example of Vaccination

Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.
Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 04/2007; 26(2):136-45. DOI: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.2.136
Source: PubMed


Risk perceptions are central to many health behavior theories. However, the relationship between risk perceptions and behavior, muddied by instances of inappropriate assessment and analysis, often looks weak.
A meta-analysis of eligible studies assessing the bivariate association between adult vaccination and perceived likelihood, susceptibility, or severity was conducted.
Thirty-four studies met inclusion criteria (N = 15,988). Risk likelihood (pooled r = .26), susceptibility (pooled r = .24), and severity (pooled r = .16) significantly predicted vaccination behavior. The risk perception-behavior relationship was larger for studies that were prospective, had higher quality risk measures, or had unskewed risk or behavior measures.
The consistent relationships between risk perceptions and behavior, larger than suggested by prior meta-analyses, suggest that risk perceptions are rightly placed as core concepts in theories of health behavior.

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